The first trail test of an Ebola vaccine in people has had positive results. The vaccine appears to be safe and working as it was designed, NBC News reported on Wednesday.
A review of the first 20 people who were injected with the vaccine has shown no dangerous side effects. Before this trail, the vaccine showed it could protect monkeys from the Ebola virus. Researchers say that the vaccine appears to be producing an immune response to protect them from the infection.
“This response is very comparable to the level of the response that actually protected the animals,” said Dr. Tony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are being ravaged by Ebola. To date, it has infected 15,000, killing 5,000. Scientists have ‘fast-tracked’ the vaccine because of the growing epidemic, though they will not be able to use the vaccine right away to help control the spread.
Researchers hope to create enough of the vaccine to protect all of the health care working who are fighting this growing epidemic.
NIAID is teaming up with GlaxoSmithKilne, the creator of the vaccine, which uses viruses from the common cold called an adenovirus that normally infects chimpanzees. The virus causes no symptoms in humans. Researchers produce it genetically with a small piece of the Ebola virus. In theory, this prompts the immune system to recognize and attack Ebola.
There is no ethical way to vaccinate people and then expose them to Ebola on purpose, so this trial is designed to see if the vaccine is safe. It also will let researchers know if the immune system responds in the way it is expected to, in order to protect from the virus, reports CNBC.
Researchers looked closely at the immune cells called CD8-T.
“We know from previous studies in non-human primates that CD8 T-cells played a crucial role in protecting animals that had been vaccinated with this NIAID/GSK vaccine and then exposed to otherwise lethal amounts of Ebola virus,” Dr. Julie Ledgerwood, an NIAID researcher who led the trial said.
“The size and quality of the CD8 T-cell response we saw in this trial are similar to that observed in non-human primates vaccinated with the candidate vaccine,” Ledgerwood added.
The vaccines real test will come when it is used to protect doctors and other healthcare workers who are treating Ebola patients because they are at especially high risk.
According to the World Health Organization, 588 Healthcare workers have been infected with the Ebola virus and 337 of them have died.
Officials at WHO say that they hope to use at least one of the vaccines to start immunizing health care workers by January.